“Music is a subtle mystery” :: The Pseudosurfers and Their Songs for Lovers

pseudosurfers four

Photos by Matteo James Moroni

Early on in 2012 I was still getting my feet wet with this whole blog thing. Still trying to find my voice as a writer and looking for new bands to write about. At this point in February of 2012 I was writing about bands I already knew and loved. I had more than enough material to work with, but it was the undiscovered gems that I was really wanting to write about. That’s really the biggest thrill about being a writer of music: the hunt for new artists. It’s one thing to espouse about artists that have helped shape you into the person you are; but to find an artist that’s new to your ears that blows you away and share that new found love with others, that’s the real meat and potatoes of writing. That’s the essence of music journalism, at least in my mind. It’s helping spread the word on new, obscure, forgotten, and generally ignored artists the so deserve to be heard and loved.

Well, as I was saying before I got off point talking about journalism, writing, and my naive concept of wanting to save the rarely listened to starving artist, back in early 2013(a good year after my trial by fire as a writer) I came across this lonely little Bandcamp page for a band called The Pseudosurfers. The name alone made me weep with glee, but once I listened to the 5-song ep that was digitally engraved on it’s page I knew I’d found something special. The band consisted of Italian producer/musician/singer Enrico M and bassist/singer Silvia S, and the music was this fuzzy, noisy mix of shoegaze, post-punk, and this warm ambient crunch that engulfs you. “Jungles of Iran”, “1664”, and “Semantics” flow along like a hopped-up version of Kevin Shields and the brothers Reid, pulsating like melodic static buzz. And “Irrotational” is this great mix of ambient tones and dreamy soundscapes. But the track that grabbed me by my lapels and shook me the most was the beautiful and melancholy “Space”. It’s this exotic, surreal, and mildly sad song that sounds like nothing I’d ever heard before. Vocals whispered(in Italian) directly under the music mix to give it a ghostly aura. It’s heavenly, if that’s your kind of scene. I knew I had to contact these Pseudosurfers and tell them how much I loved this little chunk of music obscurity. I did. I also asked some questions at Enrico M. He graciously responded.

JH: So how did The Pseudosurfers come about?

Enrico M: “The PseudoSurfers started as a solo project back in 2009. At the time I was out of my academic yearspseudosurfers one and started collecting recordings and experiments I was doing with sequencers, samplers and loud guitars, with much improvisation in it. By summer 2010 I finally decided it was time to finalize some work and contacted a recording engineer I knew and who had taught me the first steps in recording audio in order to get a more professional touch. Recordings took place during hiatuses of other things I was working on and were finally over by summer 2011. Actually we started working in a traditional manner(miking amps, working in proper studios) but I felt it did not fit the sound I had in mind, so I decided to keep on working in my home studio and then returned to him for refinishing the final mix and mastering (a couple of tasks I couldn’t handle then). In Fall 2011 I started sending out the release to the Italian press and started getting some positive feedback. In the same Fall I met Silvia and asked her to join The PseudoSurfers on bass in order to develop the live performance. Most of 2012 and 2013 was spent on extra academic duty and working on new material but in the meantime some interest had grown around the project.”

JH: If you had to put into words what the band sounds like, how would you describe The Pseudosurfers’ sound Enrico?

EM: “Actually I don’t have a precise a priori musical collocation for The PseudoSurfers e.g. a precise style or genre or scene. It tries to be a synthesis of many things I have on my head and thoughts. Influences are diverse and I am always researching and discovering new stuff that catches my imagination, yet in the end I am observing I actually have steady tastes in music throughout the years. I love exploring and experimenting and this process would be unlimited, but unfortunatelly I have many time and budget constraints. I could say it tries to sound pure and deep and tragic, but also detached or euphoric and light, maximalistic yet subtle and interesting. Most of all however I would love it to sound real and emotional and touch people. I think everyone in music tries to map sonically some
inner waves. I love shoegaze music but in particular I love MBV because they were able to catch and map something which is wordly ineffable yet everyone is familiar with.”

JH: Your five song EP is brilliant to my ears. For being recorded in your home studio it’s simply stunning. Can you describe a little bit about how the EP was conceived?

pseudosurfers threeEM: “Thanks! The record was actually conceived working hard on the sequencer. At the time there was no band and it just was me overdubbing guitars in my home studio and trying to get the sound I had in mind, heavily relying on filters and effects. In this sense the record is quite abstract as it was not supposed to sound traditional, like a traditional rock band. I personally tend not to prefer traditional sonorities and post production and studio
equipment can help to abstractize the basic RNR feel.”

JH: It’s been almost a year since I’d initially come across your Bandcamp page. Are you any closer to having a full-length record ready?

EM: “I have lots of material I am working on. The new record is in the process of being worked and surely it will feature much more material as I am needing to have space to better define the sound of The PseudoSurfers; I am also partially switching to a more traditional approach in composing. I rented a practice space and at least partially it will be more direct and song-focused, and plus most if not all lyrics will be in English this time.”

JH: Besides The Pseudosurfers what else do you have going on? You also compose classical music, right?

EM: “Well actually we both make a living from various sources. I was trained as a classical musician and I am mainly active in researching/teaching music these days and preparing some classical music publications. I deliberately opted on this research/teaching thing and I love it, as music can be treated at certain levels on academic grounds; and plus it is something that makes me artistically free and gives me lots of spare time. I am not particularly interested at the moment on being a contract composer or soundtrack composer, neither to start a career in the academic composition field. I think those are fantastic jobs but a little time consuming for me, possibly resulting in taking too much focus away from the developing of The PseudoSurfers. Silvia works in cinema.”

JH: Have you and Silvia played any live dates? Any chance you two would ever bring The Pseudosurfers to the U.S.?

EM: “At the moment we are also slowly developing our live set. I have played extensively in the last ten years in Italypseudosurfers five and abroad on my own and collaborating with different projects. Playing gigs is great but can also be very dispersive, so it is not a priority at this stage as I am more focused on developing the best music I can. Moreover the conception of the EP makes it difficult to replicate it live, as the arrangements are so overorchestrated and
heavily sonically treated…it is a challenge of this months the quest to replicate all of this live, we will probably have to rely much on sequences. We would really love to play in America, or who knows maybe move there for a bit
someday!”

JH: Can you describe the music scene in Rome?

EM: “Rome offers much to music lovers. We have very good clubs and institutions and live you can find almost any kind of music you may like; from salsa to jazzcore, and it’s often played by very valid musicians. Even though often authorities tend to forget and neglet music, compared to other arts. Concerning the alternative music scene it grew a lot since I started my observations in terms of quality and audience, still to be an act of Italy can be
somehow limiting as the country is relatively small and especially our genre is not particularly popular outside a very small and compact group of people.”

JH: Where do you see The Pseudosurfers in five years Enrico?

EM: “I would love to be able to produce some great music, that’s my main challenge. Music is a subtle mystery and I am always struggling at trying to understand it better. It would be interesting to expand The PseudoSurfers through all the paths it can go sonically, and of course playing for some real people in Europe and the Americas would be great!”

“Music is a subtle mystery.” This is very true. It’s one one those mysteries better left unsolved. Better to ponder its magic and beauty than to figure out its formula. Music is questions not answers. The Pseudosurfers put questions to beautiful music. Check them out at www.pseudosurfers.com and at their Bandcamp page. Or just listen to them right now.

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